Tag Archives: walt pascoe

Mourning Light

by Holly Friesen

An exhibition of recent paintings by Holly Friesen
Les Mots Tremblant, Friday, Dec 16, 5 to 7 pm

The transformation of the heart is a wondrous thing, no matter how you arrive there. ~Patti Smith

This exhibition is dedicated to Walt Pascoe, the love of my life, whose passing from the earth on the solstice of last year has been mourned in the sweetest light possible. The only way my heart could survive this loss was to paint my way through it. After having mourned his absence for a full year I find his presence in everything I see and touch.

I recently attended a month long artist residency program at the Vermont Studio Centre in Johnson, Vermont. This was a transformative experience. I was able to paint day and night in a gorgeous studio without interruptions or distractions. Meals were provided and the interaction with the 50 other attending writers and visual artists was inspiring and stimulating. The first thing I painted was “Good-Bye Kiss”. The reference photo I painted from was taken by a close photographer friend of mine who passed away three months after Walt. This painting allowed me to process a lot of sadness for the loss of both these dear souls. Once this painting was complete I felt released and lighter as though the studio had been blessed with a newfound radiance that was filled with love and gratitude.

 

holly friesen-good-bye kiss

 

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver

I unrolled some large swaths of canvas from a roll that had belonged to Walt, stapled them to the wall and started to paint light filled landscapes of colour and joy. These paintings came bursting forth with a gratitude for life so large it was almost hard to contain it.

 

Unbound Joy / 84" X 70"

Unbound Joy / 84″ X 70″

Mysteries Too Marvellous to be Understood / 72" X 60"

Mysteries Too Marvellous to be Understood / 72″ X 60″

 

I intend to exhibit these pieces un-stretched and unframed, just as they were in the studio. I love the raw edges that seem to extend the painting into the room and allow their energy to spill out into the space around them. I want the viewer to experience the painting  as an expansive invitation to enter the painting with their own heart.

 

holly-friesen-paintings

 

Next I felt as though I was between stories, a liminal space. A story of presence and absence co-existing in one space. A tension filled existence of opposites; movement and stillness, light and dark, colour and neutrality. A space full of potential yet oddly empty. It was at this time I came across a photograph by friend and colleague Melissa Johnston I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I rarely paint from another person’s imagery as I find “image gathering” to be very personal but this one just wouldn’t stop
calling out to me. I contacted Melissa and she very generously gave me permission to use her sublime photo as reference for a painting. “Liminal Space” is the resulting painting and I am grateful for Melissa’s vision that resonated with my own at that moment in time and space.

 

Liminal Space / 36" X 48"

Liminal Space / 36″ X 48″

 

Then came a more subdued palette as I started on a new series of paintings. These works were more modest in size and inspired by a series of photos and memories from a 5 a.m. September morning paddle on Pink Pond in the Adirondacks. As my photographer friend and I waited for the fog to lift we were rewarded with some of the most sublime glimpses  of landscape revealed at whim from behind a shifting veil of mist. This ambiguous vision of the the horizon appearing and disappearing was poetic and dreamlike.

 

Infinite Possibilities / 48" X 36"

Infinite Possibilities / 48″ X 36″

Pink Pond #1 / 12" X 12"

Pink Pond #1 / 12″ X 12″

Morning Offering / 12" X 12"

Morning Offering / 12″ X 12″

Pink Pond #4 / 12" X 12"

Pink Pond #4 / 12″ X 12″

 

The following paintings are several that I have selected from this past year of searching, exploring and reaffirming the interconnectedness of our inner and outer landscapes. The present moment seems to intersect with the past and the future and linear time dissolves into a web of moments.

 

The Present Moment Becomes Long Ago / 24" X 48"

The Present Moment Becomes Long Ago / 24″ X 48″

Dark Water Cove / 24" X 48"

Dark Water Cove / 24″ X 48″

Field Flow

Field Flow

 

My painting practice continues as a form of deep prayer which reconnects me to that which is vital in this life and beyond. Painting teaches me what I need to learn. Like breath, painting has become intuitive and essential to my own survival. I am humbled and awed by this invitation to participate in the Great Mystery through moments of numinous beauty that I am gifted with on a daily basis.

 

Un Peu Perdu dans les Nuages / 16" X 20"

Un Peu Perdu dans les Nuages / 16″ X 20″

When Warmth Fell from the Sky / 24" X 30"

When Warmth Fell from the Sky / 24″ X 30″

Landscape in Motion / 36" X 48"

Landscape in Motion / 36″ X 48″

Yellow Pool of Light / 36" X 48"

Yellow Pool of Light / 36″ X 48″

 

 

holly-friesen-bio-picArtist: Holly Friesen

www.hollyfriesen.com

hollyfriesen@gmail.com

Holly Friesen was born in Saskatchewan, studied Visual Arts at John Abbott College in Montreal and painting at York University in Toronto. After many years of travel and study she settled in Mont-Tremblant, QC and opened ArtBeat Studio where she painted and taught for 15 years. Four summer seasons saw Holly as artistic director and curator of The Art Barn in Mont-Tremblant. In 2010 she was curator and project manager of Ateliers du Village, an artist run gallery in Mont-Tremblant village.  From 2012-13 she worked as the Montreal curator for an online art auction ArtBomb. The artist’s studio is currently based out of Montreal QC where she also works as artistic director and curator of E.K. Voland Art Gallery. Her paintings are collected internationally and part of both corporate and private collections. Holly’s passion is painting vibrant landscapes from the inside out while collaborating with other artists to make art more visible in our everyday world.

Artist Statement:  My work revolves around earth-honoring images that reflect and instill connection to local bio-regions. These images internalize a reverence for the earth and shift the intent from harming the world to living in a mutually life enhancing manner. I learn what I need to know by painting. The more I paint the less separation there is between inner and outer worlds. For me, painting is like deep prayer awakening an inner wilderness that reflects the earth’s landscape; the image is in you and you are in the image. Painting is my breath, beauty my compass and the earth is my body.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyFriesenArtist/?pnref=lhc

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hollyfriesenart/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Holly59

Online Portfolio: https://www.artworkarchive.com/artwork/holly-friesen

 

A Tribute to Walt Pascoe: Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home Reprise

Walt PascoeOn December 21, 2015–Winter Solstice, the day with the longest night of the year–a dear friend and an extraordinary human being said goodbye to life on earth. His name is Walt Pascoe and many of you know of his very human, honest, luminescent, and soaring artwork–artwork that matches his spirit completely. Many of you also knew the man himself–and, if so, feel the loss keenly.

Walt wrote an essay, accompanied by artwork, for Creative Thresholds three years ago–it ran December 21, 2012 (this is uncanny, perhaps fitting)–about his struggle with colon cancer. A searing, poignant, and brutally honest account of his experience. I’m choosing to run it again in honor of this amazing human being and friend.

We miss you, Walt.

Melissa
Curator/editor

Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home

by Walt Pascoe

And but so yeah.

Having recovered nicely from the insult of surgery to resect 10 inches of my large intestine, I was more or less happily bobbing back up to the surface of my murky little emotional pond. It had been disappointing to learn that cancer cells were already frolicking around my lymph system like unruly children, and that the tender wisdom of western medical modalities dictated a course of prophylactic chemo. But after a brief time for contemplation and acceptance I’d come to terms with “stage 3” and prepared myself accordingly. There was the relatively minor surgery to insert a semi-permanent, sub-cutaneous port in my chest for easy access to a major artery, and the inevitable institutional waltz w/ the doctors office and insurance company to pre-approve this gold-plated poisoning. And finally a couple more visits to the various scan-masters for more complete head to thigh reconnoitering of my tender corpus, in order to be doubly sure there were no other cancerous redoubts hidden under a rock somewhere. All this transpired in a relatively compressed time-frame, the doctors and staff proceeding w/ an admirable, if not entirely reassuring, sense of professional urgency. And so it came to pass that my oncologist only received the latest reports the night before I showed up to begin chemo infusions.

The six-month course of chemo for my particular cancer goes by the vaguely militaristic sounding acronym FOLFOX. Essentially it involves kicking back in the coolest recliner you’ve ever seen while various anti-nausea meds and the main chemical arsenal are deployed sequentially for a few hours. (What is it with all the battle metaphors?) One of the meds is more effective if administered in small bursts over 46 hours, so before you’re allowed to leave a pump is hooked up to your port and you wear this home. Its a robust little programmable squirt machine that looks more or less like the FedEx guys’ scanner, and you get to wear it on a belt around your waist or over your shoulder. So much for any shred of sartorial hipness I might have been clinging to in the waning years of middle age semi-decrepitude. On the bright side, the pump makes a rhythmic clicking sound which, while lying on the bed next to me at night, is not without a certain comforting intimacy…

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

Wait… what?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Turns out there was in fact a further metastasis. Stage 4. Another decent sized tumor wrapped around a bronchial tube near the entry point into my left lung, snuggly nestled next to my heart; a weirdly poetic location given the stressful mid-life transitions I’d been enduring of late, but one that rendered it inoperable. So a second biotherapy (a monoclonal antibody called Avastin) was added to the FOLFOX chemo regimen, all to be administered over a 6 month period…

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“I always put lime on the people I kill. Wait… are you calling 911?” ~ Drunk guy in a Mexican restaurant, as related by my friend Melissa Johnston.

And so it seems that cancer has created the mother of all liminal spaces in my life. And it is from this strangely pregnant territory that I peer out into the… I want to say abyss… but like so many words now it seems inadequate, overused, and worked to within an inch of its word-ly life by the incessant hype culture hum we wallow in. The title of some crappy movie, complete with cross-licensed plastic action figures free w/ your next Happy Meal. And seriously, how many of us ever reach beyond the tremulous shadow of the concept and endeavors to actually process this deep down inside our whirring, buzzing lizard-brains? It crouches at the center of your chest like a cold rock, pulling you down through the turbid water more effectively than the finest cement shoes. Who the heck would want to go there voluntarily? Who…

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

Blaise Pascal wrote in “Pensées,” “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”

It’s amazing how emotions flow just like weather.

I can go along doing what I think of as “well”: feeling optimistic, comfortable being alone, celebrating the liminal, accepting the transitory nature of things, handling the chemo, sensing health and wholeness on a walk in Whites Woods, meditating, reading, feeling a measured enthusiasm for the future w/o treating the present like just something to be got through, the master of silver linings, counting my blessings, deeply grateful for the love and support of my friends and family, acquaintances at the Post Office saying “hey, you look great”, relieved by the fact that I haven’t yet assumed the grayish-blue pallor of the wasting.

And then there will be this slow creeping intimation of unease, like a little darkening on the horizon. Just a few clouds on an otherwise sunny day…

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Willem DeKooning referred to himself as a “slipping glimpser”.

As the storm gathers and starts to darken my interior landscape I can feel the slipping; the accumulation of tension in my heart and body. Fear, longing, and worry… a somatic ache that fluidly transmutes into a profound and painful spiritual dread if not checked quickly by some distraction. This is where it gets tricky being alone. It is so much easier to distract yourself from it when you are with other people. Just ignore and bury it in the cosmopolitan joy of human culture and friendship. Or loose yourself engineering a life.

“[…] almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of ‘psst’ that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer. ”
~ David Foster Wallace in “Infinite Jest”.

I guess this terror has always been present, and is for every human being. We do with it what we will. Tune it out. Turn it into art or literature. Transmogrify the brutal fact of our inevitable decay into infinite varieties of work and the illusion of progress. Am I thinking too much?! This is not always true. There are times when laughter and joy come in solitude and I can revel in it. But the laughter is hardened and forced when you are filled w/ grief at the prospect of loosing all you love… threatened in such an immediate, tangible way… I’m attached to my attachments! A lousy Buddhist if ever there was one! It’s amazing how I can go along feeling buoyant about the possibility of remission… and oh the delirious possibility of “durable remission”, held out there like the most seductive of outcomes. And then just tank for awhile… fall into the dark… gazing up into a night sky perversely ornamented with PET scan constellations of cancerous cells awash in radioactively tagged glucose, collaged all over my chest and neck, blinking out an inscrutable code… exhausted from the grasping after some more universal, ever-present , capital “L” Love. God. Some hopeful bulwark against the immensity of the void surrounding my fearful and trembling self. A glimpse perhaps…

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

And so it goes. Alone with the Alone. It is a choice. A pseudo-monastic exile, punctuated by genuinely caring and helpful visits from my loved ones and the logistics of the chemo rhythm. Simone Weil said “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity”…

"Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita" ink and graphite on paper, 22"x 30",

“Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita” ink and graphite on paper, 22″x 30″

And what exactly is it that I am attending to now?

Seeking Now through mindful solitude. That word, though: seeking! Seeking itself one of the most seductive of attachments. After the briefest foray into the silence, I flee back into the endless loop of intellectual and aesthetic dialogue w/ the dead. With those I’ve chosen to valorize as artistic mentors for 30 years: David Smith and Charles Olson. And into the radiating web of endlessly fascinating threads that fan out from their volcanic productions. Back into yet another painting or drawing, searching searching searching, always searching… wading through a rich but terrifying uncertainty…

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“Sometimes when I start a sculpture, I begin with only a realized part, the rest is travel to be unfolded much in the order of a dream. The conflict for realization is what makes art not its certainty, nor its technique or material.”
–David Smith

In Alex Stein and Yahia Lababidi’s wonderful conversation, “The Artist as Mystic”, Yahia quotes Heidegger: “Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” This resonates now. Not just a little! The words vibrate in my chest as if I were standing alongside a huge, beautifully wrought bell being rung. Small pieces of the rock crouching there begin to fall…

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

 

Writer and artist: Walt Pascoe

Please check out more of Walt’s art at http://www.waltpascoe.com/.

Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home

by Walt Pascoe

And but so yeah.

Having recovered nicely from the insult of surgery to resect 10 inches of my large intestine, I was more or less happily bobbing back up to the surface of my murky little emotional pond. It had been disappointing to learn that cancer cells were already frolicking around my lymph system like unruly children, and that the tender wisdom of western medical modalities dictated a course of prophylactic chemo. But after a brief time for contemplation and acceptance I’d come to terms with “stage 3” and prepared myself accordingly. There was the relatively minor surgery to insert a semi-permanent, sub-cutaneous port in my chest for easy access to a major artery, and the inevitable institutional waltz w/ the doctors office and insurance company to pre-approve this gold-plated poisoning. And finally a couple more visits to the various scan-masters for more complete head to thigh reconnoitering of my tender corpus, in order to be doubly sure there were no other cancerous redoubts hidden under a rock somewhere. All this transpired in a relatively compressed time-frame, the doctors and staff proceeding w/ an admirable, if not entirely reassuring, sense of professional urgency. And so it came to pass that my oncologist only received the latest reports the night before I showed up to begin chemo infusions.

The six-month course of chemo for my particular cancer goes by the vaguely militaristic sounding acronym FOLFOX. Essentially it involves kicking back in the coolest recliner you’ve ever seen while various anti-nausea meds and the main chemical arsenal are deployed sequentially for a few hours. (What is it with all the battle metaphors?) One of the meds is more effective if administered in small bursts over 46 hours, so before you’re allowed to leave a pump is hooked up to your port and you wear this home. Its a robust little programmable squirt machine that looks more or less like the FedEx guys’ scanner, and you get to wear it on a belt around your waist or over your shoulder. So much for any shred of sartorial hipness I might have been clinging to in the waning years of middle age semi-decrepitude. On the bright side, the pump makes a rhythmic clicking sound which, while lying on the bed next to me at night, is not without a certain comforting intimacy…

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

Wait… what?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Turns out there was in fact a further metastasis. Stage 4. Another decent sized tumor wrapped around a bronchial tube near the entry point into my left lung, snuggly nestled next to my heart; a weirdly poetic location given the stressful mid-life transitions I’d been enduring of late, but one that rendered it inoperable. So a second biotherapy (a monoclonal antibody called Avastin) was added to the FOLFOX chemo regimen, all to be administered over a 6 month period…

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“I always put lime on the people I kill. Wait… are you calling 911?” ~ Drunk guy in a Mexican restaurant, as related by my friend Melissa Johnston.

And so it seems that cancer has created the mother of all liminal spaces in my life. And it is from this strangely pregnant territory that I peer out into the… I want to say abyss… but like so many words now it seems inadequate, overused, and worked to within an inch of its word-ly life by the incessant hype culture hum we wallow in. The title of some crappy movie, complete with cross-licensed plastic action figures free w/ your next Happy Meal. And seriously, how many of us ever reaches beyond the tremulous shadow of the concept and endeavors to actually process this deep down inside our whirring, buzzing lizard-brains? It crouches at the center of your chest like a cold rock, pulling you down through the turbid water more effectively than the finest cement shoes. Who the heck would want to go there voluntarily? Who…

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

Blaise Pascal wrote in “Pensées,” “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”

It’s amazing how emotions flow just like weather.

I can go along doing what I think of as “well”: feeling optimistic, comfortable being alone, celebrating the liminal, accepting the transitory nature of things, handling the chemo, sensing health and wholeness on a walk in Whites Woods, meditating, reading, feeling a measured enthusiasm for the future w/o treating the present like just something to be got through, the master of silver linings, counting my blessings, deeply grateful for the love and support of my friends and family, acquaintances at the Post Office saying “hey, you look great”, relieved by the fact that I haven’t yet assumed the grayish-blue pallor of the wasting.

And then there will be this slow creeping intimation of unease, like a little darkening on the horizon. Just a few clouds on an otherwise sunny day…

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Willem DeKooning referred to himself as a “slipping glimpser”.

As the storm gathers and starts to darken my interior landscape I can feel the slipping; the accumulation of tension in my heart and body. Fear, longing, and worry… a somatic ache that fluidly transmutes into a profound and painful spiritual dread if not checked quickly by some distraction. This is where it gets tricky being alone. It is so much easier to distract yourself from it when you are with other people. Just ignore and bury it in the cosmopolitan joy of human culture and friendship. Or loose yourself engineering a life.

“[…] almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of ‘psst’ that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer. ”
~ David Foster Wallace in “Infinite Jest”.

I guess this terror has always been present, and is for every human being. We do with it what we will. Tune it out. Turn it into art or literature. Transmogrify the brutal fact of our inevitable decay into infinite varieties of work and the illusion of progress. Am I thinking too much?! This is not always true. There are times when laughter and joy come in solitude and I can revel in it. But the laughter is hardened and forced when you are filled w/ grief at the prospect of loosing all you love… threatened in such an immediate, tangible way…  I’m attached to my attachments! A lousy Buddhist if ever there was one! It’s amazing how I can go along feeling buoyant about the possibility of remission… and oh the delirious possibility of “durable remission”, held out there like the most seductive of outcomes. And then just tank for awhile… fall into the dark… gazing up into a night sky perversely ornamented with PET scan constellations of cancerous cells awash in radioactively tagged glucose, collaged all over my chest and neck, blinking out an inscrutable code… exhausted from the grasping after some more universal, ever-present , capital “L” Love. God. Some hopeful bulwark against the immensity of the void surrounding my fearful and trembling self. A glimpse perhaps…

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

And so it goes. Alone with the Alone. It is a choice. A pseudo-monastic exile, punctuated by genuinely caring and helpful visits from my loved ones and the logistics of the chemo rhythm. Simone Weil said “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity”…

"Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita" ink and graphite on paper, 22"x 30",

“Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita” ink and graphite on paper, 22″x 30″

And what exactly is it that I am attending to now?

Seeking Now through mindful solitude. That word, though: seeking! Seeking itself one of the most seductive of attachments. After the briefest foray into the silence, I flee back into the endless loop of intellectual and aesthetic dialogue w/ the dead. With those I’ve chosen to valorize as artistic mentors for 30 years: David Smith and Charles Olson. And into the radiating web of endlessly fascinating threads that fan out from their volcanic productions. Back into yet another painting or drawing, searching searching searching, always searching… wading through a rich but terrifying uncertainty…

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“Sometimes when I start a sculpture, I begin with only a realized part, the rest is travel to be unfolded much in the order of a dream. The conflict for realization is what makes art not its certainty, nor its technique or material.”
–David Smith

In Alex Stein and Yahia Lababidi’s wonderful conversation, “The Artist as Mystic”, Yahia quotes Heidegger: “Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” This resonates now. Not just a little! The words vibrate in my chest as if I were standing alongside a huge, beautifully wrought bell being rung. Small pieces of the rock crouching there begin to fall…

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

 

Walt PascoeWalt Pascoe is a Montreal-based visual artist who received a B.A. in Fine Art from St. Lawrence University in 1980. You can see more of his work at www.waltpascoe.com

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